Information about the Desert City Poetry Series, contemporary poetry & poetics, and poetry readings & events in central North Carolina.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Schooled on the Mouth by a Jackal

For those of you keeping score, the title of this post is, in fact, ripped off from Tony Tost's excellent song which he has posted at the sadly inactive of late Spaceship Tumblers.

The jackal in the title is not actually Reb Livingston but is, in fact, a reference to Reb Livingston who, and hence the title, brought my attention to my incomplete Carrboro Poetry Festival report. Gracias, senorita Reb.

So, reports from the fest (that I am aware of) are as follows:

Reb Livingston drops the money about CPF here.

Chris Vitiello has posted part two of a three part series.

Here is CV's part one.

Marcus Slease's report is here.

Gabe Gudding's report and pictures are here.

And Heidi Lynn Staples account esta aqui.

On another note, it looks like the Lucipo gang is headed on an East Coast tour sometime in July/August with potential stops in Ithaca, NY; NYC, NY; Philly, PA; Washington, DC; and ???

Want to feel the fire? Email me.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Other End of the Continuum

Some very sad, upsetting, angry-making, and depressing news sent from Chris Vitiello this morning:

Crosses Burned in Durham

Such a contrast between the events that occurred last night and the Carrboro Poetry Festival, alpha and omega as they say. I say "continuum" above though as an anticipated response to what some might say in response to this news along the lines of "back to reality."

I don't believe that this dispicable expression of ignorant racial hatred is any more "reality" than the Poetry Festival; these are ends on the continuum. The Festival demonstrated a remarkable number of realities about poetry, but most important, it demonstrated the reality that large groups of very different people who largely don't know one another can get together and share community, harmony, melody, cacophony, and support each other to achieve our individual best. Audience and poets all together.

The festival further demonstrated that creating this community has legs, the feelings and ideas will spread and continue to develop in other places far beyond the confines of Carrboro's Century Center (already participants are talking about setting up readings in their home towns, and ten people at least have contacted me about joining Lucipo.)

Even further, the festival shows that creating this sort of community and artistic experience takes a lot of effort and a lot of help.

But mostly it shows also that the effort is worth it, that the spirit expressed during the festival is not some fleeting thing from which we return to the gruesome drugdery of daily life.

The Poetry Festival and its audience and participants is as real as the acts of the ignorant people so rotted by hatred as to engage is such a senseless and despicable act as burning a cross.

We can live in one end of the continuum more than the other; with more events like the poetry festival, with a more conscious creation of community, we can demonstrate how to accomplish that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Carrboro Poetry Festival: Summer Has Begun

Well, the festival is now over -- it is sad that the festival is over, but sadder still would be the deaths of so many talented poets who, because the festival continued, would have surely exploded from the pleasure and poesy mainlined into every vein, so perhaps, sad as it is, it is good that the festival is over for the year. Ahh, I already pine for next year.....

I'm still in a daze from the glory and wonder of it all, but other bloggers of heartier constitution have done a great service and posted their thoughts:

Chris Vitiello has posted the first part of his festival wrap up -- sections two and three coming soon.

Marcus Slease also posted a review of the fest.

Gabe Gudding has posted some excellent pictures at his blog.

Heidi Lynn Staples also has posted a review of day two of the festival.

Paul Jones also has some festival notes.

I had an incredible time at the festival -- truly magnificent readings and company. Heidi and Gabe are both people (like so many there) who were a real treat to meet. Many new friends I'm eager to get to know and many new poets to invite to the Desert City.

Big thanks to Patrick Herron and the Lucipos for Patrick's organizing and energy and the Lucis (especially the most excellent Todd & Laura) for rolling out the red carpet to our guests.

And if I'm missing any reviews or posts, please let me know, and I'll post them.

More soon, off to write grant number three....

Friday, May 20, 2005


Below is the festival's reading schedule for May 21 & 22 2005.

Saturday May 21 12 PM - 9 PM

Session A 12 PM - 1:30 PM
12:15 Amy King
12:30 Julian Semilian
12:45 Sue Soltis
1:00 Todd Sandvik
1:15 Mel Nichols

1:30 15 MIN BREAK

Session B 1:45 PM - 2:50 PM
1:45 INTRO
1:50 Ken Rumble
2:05 Tanya Olson
2:20 Mary Margaret Sloan
2:35 Joseph Donahue

2:50 35 MIN BREAK

Session C 3:25 PM - 4:30 PM
3:25 INTRO
3:30 Standard Schaefer
3:45 Rod Smith
4:00 Evie Shockley
4:15 Tony Tost

4:30 15 MIN BREAK

Session D 4:45 PM - 5:50 PM
4:45 INTRO
4:50 Dasan Ahanu
5:05 Allyssa Alexandra Wolf
5:20 Linh Dinh
5:35 Dale Smith

5:50 BREAK

Session E 7:30 - 9 PM
7:30 INTRO
7:45 Carl Martin
8:00 Lee Ann Brown
8:15 Philip Nikolayev
8:30 Harryette Mullen
8:45 Christian Bök

Sunday May 22 12 PM - 6 PM

Session F 12 PM - 1:30 PM
12:00 INTRO
12:15 Mack Ivey
12:30 Joanna Catherine Scott
12:45 Paul Jones
1:00 Chris Vitiello
1:15 Amy Carroll

1:30 15 MIN BREAK

Session G 1:45 PM - 2:50 PM
1:45 INTRO
1:50 Gabriel Gudding
2:05 Hoa Nguyen
2:20 Murat Nemet-Nejat
2:35 Patrick Herron

2:50 35 MIN BREAK

Session H 3:25 PM - 4:30 PM
3:25 INTRO
3:30 Reb Livingston
3:45 Hristo Ivanovski
4:00 Andrea Selch
4:15 Randall Williams

4:30 15 MIN BREAK

Session I 4:45 PM - 6 PM
4:45 INTRO
4:50 Heidi Lynn Staples
5:05 Daniel J. Wideman
5:20 Marcus Slease
5:35 Tessa Joseph

Wednesday, May 18, 2005







THIS SATURDAY AND SUNDAY!!!!! MAY 21 & 22!!!!!!!!




I do apologize to anyone who made it this far and has a headache. I promise not to gratuitously use caps again for a while. It's just that the Carrboro Poetry Festival is so great and fun and the line-up this year is so making me swooooon.

I can't wait.

Updating a previous thread: my plan to acquire 501(c)3 for the Desert City will start with a call to North Carolina's Department of Commerce. Apparently, it is their job to help people like me start businesses. So it may not be sexy, but I'm going to just call the government and let them tell me what to do. I suspect that every state has one of these agencies and would do the same for anyone within their state. In some places, these organizations might even be really sexy. Speaking of gratuitous use of the word "sexy",

CARRBORO POETRY FESTIVAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Updating the Sidebar Links & Summer Projects

Hello everyone,

I'm going to spend a little time updating the links on the sidebar for the page. If anyone has a site related to a reading series, a lit journal, a poetry press, or poetry blog -- stick the addy in my comments or email me directly.

I'm particularly interested in other sites that relate to reading series -- let's network!!

Also, the Carrboro Poetry Festival is coming closer and closer: May 21 & 22. It's going to be a fantastic time, so come on down!!!

In other news, I'm putting together a couple more grants for the series. They look pretty good -- I think I've put together a pretty good looking budget for this year. In the past, my grant efforts have been much less planned out and much more last minute. They're still a little last minute, but I've got a good plan. The budget calls for $13,000. which will provide for airfare, honoraria, space rental, advertising, reception, and miscellaneous expenses. What I like about the budget/plan is that I'm seeking money from 5 or 6 different funding agencies with a couple in reserve in case some of the first string fall through. In the past, I haven't spread the sources around as much.

So that's one big project for the summer -- the other big project is to establish the Desert City as a non-profit corporation (501(c)3) in its own right. In addition to the readings, Chris Vitiello and I are putting the beginnings of a chapbook press together (Desert City Press) plus there are lots of things that the Lucipo group here in NC are involved in. My plan is to establish the DC as a non-prof so that we can apply for grant money to support these various projects.

If anyone has any advice or info about non-profits, please let me know.

Lastly, here's a list of folks that I've contacted about reading in the series next year -- they've all agreed to come; we're working out the details.

Claudia Rankine
Brent Cunningham
Rosmarie Waldrop
K. Silem Mohammad
Sarah Manguso
Ron Silliman
Brenda Coultas

Monday, May 02, 2005

Season Three Draws to a Close

Well, that's it folks -- Season Three of the Desert City is over; the long summer break becons; grant applications await writing; foundations await calling; poets await invitations -- it's that happy time when informal house readings, Lucipo meetings, and the traveling show all bud up like so many red bud blossoms down here in NC.

And what a way to go out -- Carl Martin and Lee Ann Brown were a super combination; both of them talented readers as well as writers, deft in their relations with the audience.

Carl opened the evening with several poems from his first book Go Your Stations, Girl including one about spying an odd couple making toys through the window of an unusual house. He went on to read several pieces from Genii Over Salzberg, including one of my favorites "X2.1." He closed with new work from an unpublished manuscript titled Rogue Hemlocks.

Lee Ann began her reading with a long piece, a pastiche of quotes from a film maker that she spent a day on a train with. The piece ranged over a wide territory, compelling in scope and frequently quite funny. Next she read from a series of haiku written about and during her several trips to her country of birth, Japan. From there, she dipped into her first collection, Polyverse, reading several pieces that were either produced with or to last week's DC visitor, Lisa Jarnot. She closed singing several of her ballads; one of which, "Three Rings," sung at the request of Evie Shockley.

We wrapped up the evening at Acme restaurant in Carrboro with a boisterous crowd, champagne toasts, and much talk of things to come.

Thanks to everyone for making this one of the most exhilirating series of readings I've ever been a part of. Thanks to all the poets who came to read from near and far; thanks to the audience for supporting the series so thoroughly and consistently; thanks to Internationalist Books for hosting us; thanks to Todd & Laura (again) for giving us a place to relax post readings, and thanks to Kathryn for making the production of the series an easy task by remembering everything I forgot.

Much love to all involved -- stay tuned for news of next season and check out Marcus Slease's review of Saturday's reading.

Below are the intros I wrote for Lee Ann and Carl:
(they appear in reverse order because I wrote LA's before CM's)

Lee Ann Brown & Carl Martin Intro

1. Announcements
a. First Annual Carrboro Book Fair, May 7th, at the Carrboro Arts Center
b. Second Annual Carrboro Poetry Festival, May 21 – 22, Carrboro Century Center
c. Desert City returns in September of 2005; some of the likely readers include: Claudia Rankine, Ron Silliman, Brenda Coultas, K. Silem Mohammad, Rosmarie Waldrop, and Brent Cunningham

2. Welcome
a. Thanks for coming
b. introduce yourself
a. The Desert City is a non-profit, volunteer run and funded organization. Both of the poets tonight are appearing without receiving any compensation. Please make a donation to support the poets and the series. Please buy books to support the internationalist.
b. Sign up sheet in the back for announcements of future events

2. Thank yous
a. Internationalist
b. Lee Ann & Carl
c. all of you
d. Kathryn

3. Tonight, though, we are here to see Lee Ann Brown & Carl Martin.

4. As the preeminent literary critic Ken Rumble once wrote of Lee Ann Brown, her poems combine “adroit ability with an expansive range of styles.” And I was right. Or as Brown writes herself, “It’s about really listening to /// When I listen to myself // I hear the world” and later, as if a skipping record, “The single solitary singer // is not -- // is not tuned into // one frequency only.” And thus it is in these poems that the speakers, and there are many, see the possible inside every impossible.
5. Lee Ann Brown is a poet, film maker, and publisher and received her early training in these trades here in North Carolina. Raised in fair, windy Charlotte, Lee Ann has returned recently for a residency in Asheville. Her first collection of poems, Polyverse, was selected as part of the New American Poetry Series in 1999; her second book, The Sleep that Changed Everything, was published in 2003 by Wesleyan University Press. Lee Ann also holds what some might call an honor: she was the very first poet presented in the Desert City Poetry Series.
6. “Desire is the ground / from which we act,” she writes in “Desire Device” and that theme, desire, coupled with a belief in the incantatory power of words fills Brown’s poems with transformations: “I didn’t know how / this little / song would / end / the last stanza not right / until last night / when / to change the form / to Leonine / everything / like the form / is changed / a long long line / like your sweet kisses / which liquefy / my limbs / & get better & better / impossibly / real.”
7. Play – playing with words, ideas, forms – is the method of these transformations – she writes, “way past way -- / Outer space – Meditation’s intensities // Convert play’s determining eye -- / To sight.” And later, “She said I had a ‘language problem’ / but I am just trying to let gorgeous risk in.” And again, “set down your paying work & / tongue & groove / me again.”
8. The aim of all this play is to mix and join, to create communication in the sense of communion with people and the world – she writes in “Sustain Petal”: “Come on, you who remembers your dreams / who acts upon them in this world / come you who I often and silently call / so that I may be with you / Come and sustain me / and I will sustain you / with what sustenance I have / with the curls of revolutionary quiet / with lovely baroque convolutions of thought / … / Make a new life / for those around us fully / and for those / to come // to come / To.”
9. Please welcome Lee Ann Brown.

10. In “The Vision” the opening poem of Carl Martin’s most recent collection, he writes: “The shrill, militaristic scream / of a bird / over the Baltic sea / is as dented, gray / as a warboat’s hull, its white wind / … / Watchfires at sea are an illusion, / a desert’s swill mirage / spilling into the sailor’s eye. / … / Rain seeds the water with red. / A corpse like a scarecrow rises in the sky” and thus begins a gothic journey, terrible and wonderful, through myth, history, and love. “Love terrifies when you need / one who hates, despises her love. / A cobra is poised / in the cave of Tristan and Iseult / where cherub-fresh cheeks / and liars tip the chalice.”
11. Like Lee Ann Brown, Carl Martin was raised in North Carolina, Winston-Salem specifically where he still lives. It is there where I met Carl several years ago in March when he appeared in the Desert City for the first time. Martin set out to become a painter during his time at Maharishi International University, but upon discovering the poetry of the great John Ashbery, he instead pursued poetry, creating a poetic style with roots in the baroque and expressionism. For this innovative style, Martin has received high praise from poets as diverse as Ashbery himself and formalist John Hollander.
12. The lush and surreal world that Martin describes is haunted. He writes in “Salvation’s Wraith,”: “Betrothed to silk, white lace / the long wands of the trees / bend, annoy, as they await / the promenade of bees, / … / She’ll not starve us at the well / whose maiden spirit’s wrist, / hand extended towards us, / flows with milk.” And later, “Harmonious sister with red hair, thick limbs / that sink into a death, / I Can’t imitate your teetering dance, / or sanely will your image away! / Your sinuous ballet sweeps through these halls.”
13. This velvet world is the product of a vision that recognizes that the eye is an active participant in creation. He writes in “Jupiter Flower”: “I fly like hawk or oriole over fields / of hay, the Jupiter flower / glistening soft and blue. One eye piercing sunlight, / the other stuck in the clouds.” And, “In the poet’s mind, birds click / like castanets, around the wrists / of a dancing gypsy.” And in “The Day in Graz” he writes: “The song of the trees rustles toward me: / a chameleon’s key / in the rusted lock // that whistles in the air / like wind, / and reveals a glimmering hand / bent like the neck of a swan.”
14. Through all these beautiful scenes, fearful and awed, the narrator – like Dante’s Virgil – guides us as if, as he writes in “Conversation”, with “someone whispering to us in the dark / room with the tiger spotted lily.”
15. Please welcome Carl Martin.